Final Words: Stand Firm in Christ

Mar 24

Final Words: Stand Firm in Christ

1 Peter 5:6-14

Preached at Main Street Church on March 24th 2019

1 Peter 5:6-14  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”

Have you ever taken public transportation in a foreign country? We try standing firm on our own (in our own strength)

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

In these last 9 verses Peter gives us his final word of encouragement:

  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him (Are you standing in Christ?)
  1. Stand in Christ When You’re Anxious (v. 6-8a)
    1. By Humbling Yourself (v. 6)
    2. By Being Watchful (v. 7-8a)
  2. Stand in Christ When You Doubt (v. 8b-9)
    1. By Resisting the Devil (v. 8b-9a)
    2. By Knowing Your Brothers (v. 9b)
  3. Stand in Christ When You Fall (v. 10-14)
    1. By Trusting in God’s Plan (v. 10-11)
    2. By Believing in God’s Grace (v. 12-14)
  1. Stand in Christ When We’re Anxious (v. 6-8a)
  • Verse 6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful.
  • We need to stand in Christ when we’re anxious, and there are two ways we do that:
    • By Humbling Yourself
    • By Being Watchful
  • By Humbling Yourself

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

  • Jesus humbled himself in the Garden of Gethsemane, under the hand of God, so that at the proper time, he would be exalted. 
  • Philippians 2 says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him
    • If Jesus humbled himself when he was anxious, how much more should we?
      • Dwight Moody said, “Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.”
  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him When We’re Anxious

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

  • Matthew 26 tells us that in the garden Jesus was “sorrowful and troubled.”
  • He was anxious, so he cast all his anxieties on his heavenly Father 
    • It’s not a sin to have anxiety—clearly, Jesus was anxious here—and for good reason.  The issue is what you do when you’re anxious
      • Pride tells us to hold onto our anxiety and handle the issues ourselves
      • Humility lets go of anxiety and casts it on Jesus
      • Pride says God doesn’t care about you
      • Humility knows how much God cares
  • Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him When We’re Anxious

The second way we Stand in Christ When we’re anxious is

  • By Being Watchful

Be sober-minded; be watchful.

  • It means to be vigilant; be aware of oncoming temptations and threats
  • By using the word ‘watchful’ here Peter is alluding to the time he fell asleep in the garden of Gethsemane.
  • Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him to pray with him and he told them “remain here, and watch with me.” but as they waited there in the garden, they were not watchful, and they fell asleep. 
  • When Jesus found them he said, “could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 
  • Standing in Christ When We’re Anxious means humbling ourselves and being watchful, because if we don’t humble ourselves, we won’t be watchful
    • Pride says I don’t need to be watchful because I can handle anything that comes my way
    • Humility knows I need to be watchful because I need God’s help in my life
  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him When We’re Anxious

In April 1521 the man responsible for igniting the Protestant Reformation stood before the Holy Roman Emperor.  His name was Martin Luther.  He had been marched to the city of ‘Vorms’ to publicly recant his teachings that said salvation was by faith alone, that people should have the Bible in their own language, and that people should repent and pray directly to Jesus rather than through a priest or a deceased saint.  If He didn’t recant he would  face not only excommunication from the church, but most likely execution as a heretic.

  • He had many reasons to be anxious.  And he spent the night watching and humbling himself before God.
  • Luther stood before the emperor, and after defending his beliefs with Scripture he famously said, “Here I stand, I can do no other; God help me.”
  • As Luther stood before the emperor he stood in Christ by humbling himself and being watchful.
    • In his well-known song Luther wrote these words:
    • Did we in our own strength confide/our striving would be losing/were not the right man on our side/the man of God’s own choosing/Dost ask who that may be?/Christ Jesus, it is He;/Lord Sabaoth His name,/from age to age the same,/And He must win the battle

When we’re anxious, we must stand in Christ by humbling ourselves and being watchful.

  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him When We’re Anxious

What situation is going on where you’ve been trying to stand alone?  What anxieties do you need to cast on your heavenly Father?  Are you living in a spiritual stupor, or a are you being watchful

  • Stand in Christ by humbling yourself before God just as Christ did
  • And be watchful so you won’t enter into temptation.
        • Let someone into your life to help you carry the load of your anxiety.  Confess to a friend what is weighing you down.  Humble yourself.
        • Commit to starting your morning with Scripture instead of a smartphone.  Don’t get drunk on social media and an artificial semblance of life, but be sober-minded, and be watchful
  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him When We’re Anxious
        • In the next two verses we see we must:
  1. Stand in Christ When We Doubt (v. 8b-9)
  • Picking up in verse 8 it says, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
  • We Stand in Christ When we Doubt:
    • By Resisting the Devil (v. 8b-9a)
    • By Knowing Our Brothers (v. 9b)
  • By Resisting the Devil (v. 8b-9a)

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

  • Peter describes the Devil this way because he experienced it firsthand during his sleepy night in the garden of Gethsemane.
  • Satan’s goal is to get you to doubt God.  He wants you to doubt God’s goodness, doubt God’s wisdom, doubt God’s power, and ultimately, to doubt God’s love.  It’s what He did to Adam and Eve, and it’s what he wants to do to you.
  • Our only hope of resisting the devil’s desire to devour our faith is to Stand in Christ When We Doubt.
  • Jesus told Peter in the garden of gethsemane: “pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” But Peter didn’t pray; and Satan preys on the prayerless.  He preys on the prayerless and pounces on pride.
  • Standing in Christ when we doubt mean’s resisting the devil.
  • Verse 9 says: “Resist him, firm in your faith,”
  • So the question is: how can you resist the devil and be firm in your faith when you doubt?
    • Here is the key:
      • After they shared the last supper together Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,” (Luke 22:31)
      • This means Satan wanted to shake Peter up just like wheat was shaken, and cause him to fall. 
      • But after telling Peter that Satan wanted shake him, Jesus said these key words: “32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”
      • Standing in Christ when you doubt doesn’t mean you never doubt, it means that when you doubt, your faith won’t fail because you are standing in Christ.
      • Although Peter would doubt God and would fall, his standing in Christ ensured that his faith would not fail. 
      • He is telling us here not to make the same mistake as him, but to resist the devil.
  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him When We Doubt
  • And we do that by resisting the Devil, and by:
  • By Knowing Our Brothers (v. 9b)
  • Peter writes in v. 9: “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
  • One of the best cures for doubt is knowing the testimony of our brothers and sisters.
  • There is something about hearing and knowing the struggle stories, suffering stories, and success stories of our brothers and sisters that helps us to stand in Christ when we doubt.
  • When Peter says that we can stand in Christ when we doubt by knowing our brothers, I think he intends to direct us to his own story.
    • In Luke 22 when Jesus told Peter he had prayed for him that his faith would not fail, he also said, “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
  • Knowing Peter’s story helps us Stand in Christ When I doubt, because we know that we’re not alone.  We Stand in Christ when we doubt by knowing our brothers.
  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him When We Doubt

In 480 BC the Persians led a devastating military campaign against the Greeks.  Led by King Xerxes the power of Persian military seemed like an irresistible force.    Fear swept through the Greek city-states with everyone doubting they would be able to stand against the ferocity of the Persians.  No one had been able to resist them.

But in order for the Persians to complete their invasion of Greece they would have to pass through the narrow coastal passage of Thermopylae, known as “The Hot Gates.”  Despite the doubt of others, a small group of 300 Spartans and 700 other Greeks led by King Leonidas of Sparta resisted the Persian army—which according to ancient sources numbered over one million.

The small band of brothers stood against the Persians and resisted their attacks for 3 days.  Although every one of the resisters ended up giving their lives, the story of their courage reached their Greek brotherhood throughout the land, and emboldened them to stand firm in resisting the enemy.  The following year, a Greek army, inspired by their Spartan brothers, decisively defeated the Persians in their final stand, and ended the Persian invasion.

Stand in Christ when you doubt by resisting the Devil, and you just might inspire—or be inspired—by your brothers to do the same.

  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him When We Doubt

Have you been resisting the Devil in your life, or has your prayerlessness made you his prey?  Do you know your brothers and sisters so when you doubt you can lean on them?

  • When you find yourself doubting God’s goodness, resist the Devil’s schemes by humbling yourself in prayer.  Be honest with God about your doubts.  You won’t tell him anything he’s never heard before.  Come before him with humility and you will send Satan running. 
  • James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves…to God.  Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.”
    • Jonathan Edwards said, Nothing sets a person so much out of the Devil’s reach as humility.
    • Stand in Christ when you doubt by resisting the devil.
  • Maybe you’re not struggling with doubt at this time, but there’s always someone who is.  Let’s be a church that’s intentional about sharing testimonies of God’s faithfulness to us.  Has God blessed you recently?  Did he come through in some way that you never would have expected?  Bring that up at the dinner table.  Mention that in your next conversation.  Share that blessing with your Christian brothers and sisters.
  • Standing in Christ When We Doubt means we stand together with our brothers in Christ.
  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him When We Doubt

We need to Stand in Christ When We’re Anxious, Stand in Christ When We Doubt, and lastly, we need to:

  1. Stand in Christ When We Fall (v. 10-14)

Verse 10: “10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.”

  • Peter tells us here that the way we Stand in Christ When We Fall is:
  • By Trusting in God’s Plan (v. 10-11)
  • By Believing in God’s Grace (v. 12-14)
  • By Trusting in God’s Plan (v. 10-11)
  • Peter says,10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
  • Not only had Peter learned what it felt like to fall, but he learned something about trusting in God’s plan after he had fallen.
  • After he fell and denied Jesus, Peter went back to his old life-plan: fishing for fish instead of for men.  But God had a different plan, and Jesus went to find Peter.
  • It’s almost as if Jesus planned to meet Peter in the same way they first met, when Jesus called Peter to follow him.  As though Jesus wanted to remind Peter that his plan for Peter hadn’t changed. 
  • Jesus himself restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established Peter, and said the very same words as the first time they met on a beach “Follow me.” (John 21:19)
    • Trusting in God’s plan means believing that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”  Trusting in God’s plan mean’s believing that even if you think Jesus would never take you back, his plan for you has not changed. 
  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him When We Fall
  • Standing in Christ When You Fall means trusting in God’s plan.  It also means:
  • By Believing in God’s Grace (v. 12-14)

In verse 12 Peter writes, “I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.”

  • God’s call for you to stand in Christ doesn’t mean you never fall, it means that when you fall, you fall on the rock.  That’s what the true grace of God is. 
  • None of us can stand on our own, which is why we need to stand in Christ.  That’s why we need God’s grace.
  • They key to standing in Christ isn’t about how you stand, but how Christ stood
    • Christ humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time God highly exalted him
    • Christ resisted the devil and intercedes on our behalf, praying that our faith may not fail
    • Christ suffered in our place so that we might be restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established by his Spirit. 
      • So Peter says, “this is the true grace of God, stand firm in it.”
      • The perfect life that Jesus lived for us, the death that he died in our place, and the resurrection life that he gives to all who believe in him—this is the true grace of God.”
    • Standing in Christ when we fall mean believing in God’s grace.
      • God’s grace doesn’t mean you never fall, it means Christ will never let you fail.
    • The way we Stand in Christ When We Fall is by Trusting in God’s Plan, and Believing in God’s Grace.
  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him When We Fall

Judges 13 tells the account of a man named Manoah and his wife being visited by the angel of the Lord who told them that although it was impossible for them to have children, they would have a son, and God’s plan was to use him to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines (Judges 13:5)

Well, Manoah and his wife did have a son, just as the Lord had graciously planned.  They named him Samson.  Despite the holy expectations surrounding Samson’s birth, his life was defined by ‘falling.’  He fell in love with a Philistine woman, He fell in love with a prostitute, he fell in love with Delilah.  He fell to his own pride and arrogance, and ultimately, he fell victim to the Philistines, the ones he was planned  to conquer. 

Samson found himself chained in a Philistine temple with his eyes gouged out.  He had fallen from grace.  Had God’s plan—announced from his birth—changed?  Had God’s grace run out?  It appeared that way, but they hadn’t. 

I wonder if Samson remembered what God’s plan for him was, and started to trust it, against all odds.  One final time, Samson would believe in God’s grace and call on him.  God graciously answered Samson’s cry, and used Samson for his plan that he had announced from the beginning: to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.  Samson pushed the pillars of the pagan Philistine temple over, and defeated the enemies of God’s people.  In the final moments of his life, Samson trusted in God’s plan, and believed in God’s grace.

Hebrews 11 calls Samson someone who had faith, because although he fell, he trusted in God’s plan and believed in God’s grace

  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him Even When We Fall

When we fall, our tendency is to give up on God’s plan and doubt his grace.  But standing firm isn’t about how we stand, but how Christ stood

  • What plans of being used by God have you given up on because you think you’ve fallen too many times? 
  • What area of your life do you think God has run out of grace for you in? 
    • One verse that you ought to memorize is Philippians 1:6. It says, “And I am sure of this: that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” It means:
      • God didn’t redeem you from your sin and then think to himself, ‘Aw, that didn’t work out.’ He poured out his grace on you because he has a plan that he himself guarantees will come to pass completely when he returns. 
    • If you think you’ve fallen away from God’s plan for you, or fallen outside of his grace, you need to surround yourself with believers who will speak God’s truth into your life and who will remind you of the gospel. 
      • We have a number of small groups starting this month and next month. Consider joining one of those. 
    • Perhaps as I’ve been speaking God has brought someone to your mind that you know struggles to believe in God’s grace for them.  Get coffee with them this week.  Send an encouraging text message to them letting them know you’re thinking of them.  Ask what you can pray for.
  • We need to Stand in Christ Even When We Fall, and we do that by trusting in his plan and believing in his grace.
  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him

Jesus told a story of two men.  One man was a fool.  The other man was wise.  Both men built houses, but the difference was where each man built his house.  The man who was a fool built his house on the sand, and when the rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against his house and it came crashing down and was destroyed.

The wise man built his house on the rock.  And when the rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against his house, the wise man’s house stood firm

The way Jesus tells the story, the difference between the wise man and the foolish man was not the strength of the materials they used, or the cleverness of their construction.  The key was where the house stood

Where do you stand this morning?  Have you been standing on the shifting sands of self-reliance and human pride, or do you stand on the rock of ages, Jesus Christ?

In the storms of life the floods of anxiety will come, and the winds of doubt will blow and beat you down until you fall, but in those storms and floods may we be able to say with that great preacher Charles Spurgeon, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the rock of ages.”

  • Since Jesus Stood Firm, We Must Stand in Him
  • As Peter concludes his letter: “Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”